July 21, 2008

Dear Young Friends: 'Build a future of hope for all humanity'

SYDNEY, (VIS) - On Sunday morning the Holy Father was taken by helicopter from the heliport of Victoria Barracks to Centennial Park, a public park in Sydney founded in the year 1888.

From the park he travelled by popemobile to Randwick Racecourse, making a circuit of the area as he greeted and blessed the 350,000 young people from all over the world who were gathered there to attend the closing Mass of 23rd World Youth Day.

During the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 24 catechumens.

Referring in his homily to the theme of this World Youth Day - "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses" - the Holy Father affirmed that "as the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace."

Benedict XVI indicated that "the power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life," explaining that "this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift."

"God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church."

The Pope gave thanks to the Lord for the gift of faith, "which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation," and especially for "all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands."

In this context he mentioned the names of Blessed Mary MacKillop, St. Peter Chanel and Blessed Peter To Rot.

"Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects Him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the 'power' which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you?"

"Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of His love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity."

"The world," he added, "needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns in a desperate search for meaning, the ultimate meaning that only love can give?"

"The Church also needs this renewal!" the Holy Father exclaimed. "She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit!"

Pope Benedict encouraged the young people to open their hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit.

"I address this plea in a special way," he said, "to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say 'yes' to Jesus, to find your joy in doing His will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!"

Referring then to the Sacrament of Confirmation which he was about to impart upon a number of young people, he asked those present to reflect upon the significance of receiving the "seal" of the Holy Spirit. "

"It means." he explained, "being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation". It means "not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilisation of love."

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